Teen with autism shares peanut butter prize with unpaid US shutdown workers

“Peanut butter is something he loves, and giving it to others makes him happy,” Bean McKay's mum Tracy said.

A teenager with autism who won a lifetime supply of peanut butter is giving some of it away to workers who are not being paid because of the shutdown of the United States Government.

Eric McKay, a 14-year-old from Virginia who is known by the nickname Bean, loves the nutty spread so much he eats English muffins with peanut butter and jelly three times a day.

“Like many kids with autism, he’s sensitive to textures and self-regulates his food,” his mum Tracy said on Twitter.

So when Tracy spotted jars on sale for 78 cents (60p) in Lidl back in February, she bought 72 of them.

That supply lasted until October when Bean tweeted the budget supermarket to tell them about it – and suggest they do another sale.

As well as sending over a fresh 72 jars, Lidl challenged Bean to get 72,000 retweets for his tweet, saying they would give him a lifetime supply if he managed it.

With a little bit of celebrity help – Monica Lewinsky and author Neil Gaiman were among those who championed his cause – he managed it. But then he made the decision to give some of it away.

Specifically Bean decided to give some of his stash to workers who aren’t being paid because of the government shutdown.

Do you know a furloughed federal employee?

We're delighted to partner with Bean in raising awareness for autism by helping him donate some of his beloved Lidl peanut butter, that we will match jar for jar, to furloughed federal employees. If you are a furloughed federal employee, come down to our Lidl Dumfries location tomorrow, Wednesday, January 23, from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. with valid government ID to receive 3 jars of #LidlBeanutButter, while supplies last.

Posted by Lidl US on Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Mum Tracy told the Press Association: “He was very clear all along – it was his idea – that we would share part of it.

“When we realised how much a lifetime supply is, he was very matter-of-fact. ‘We have a lot, we don’t need it all right now, and we should share’.”

“For him, this was a simple thing. When you have more than you need, you share with others. We have been on the receiving end of other people’s kindness, we have struggled in the past, and he remembers.”

Bean’s father himself is among the furloughed federal workforce – he hasn’t been allowed to work since before Christmas.

The shutdown began in December when President Donald Trump refused to sign a Bill which funds the federal government’s activities because it contained no cash for building a wall at the Mexican border. It had been unanimously agreed by both parties in the Senate.

Now Bean hopes to give a little bit of relief to the workers caught up in the shutdown by handing out some of his prize peanut butter.

He was at the Lidl branch in Dumfries, Virginia, on Wednesday giving some away – and he’ll be doing the same thing again on Saturday.

“He has actually really loved the physical side of handing out the peanut butter,” said Tracy. “He’s happy about it.

“Peanut butter is something he loves, and giving it to others makes him happy.

“He told me that last night after we finished the first giveaway, ‘Mom, it feels so good. I want to do more of this.’ So we’re having a second giveaway on Saturday.”

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